My third time in Ireland definitely proved to be my lucky charm. I was able to experience the Irish countryside while still enjoying city life in Dublin. Although nearly five years have passed since my first visit, many of my initial observations have remained true. Here are a few of my favorite things about my beloved homeland.
1) The People are Exceptionally Friendly
I don’t know what it is about the Irish but I have yet to meet a single person here with a mean bone in his body. Of course, I’m sure a few do exist but as far as I can tell, happiness is the mood of choice and I’m more than ok with that. There is a warmness you feel in the fresh, open air that probably has less to do with air quality and much more to do with the “happy to help” attitude.
While most global cities have a reputation for instilling hostility, Dublin doesn’t fall into this group. From servers and bartenders to shop owners and random passerby, politeness reigns supreme.
2) B & B’s are the Way to Go
In all honesty, I had never stayed at a Bed & Breakfast before doing so in Ireland and I hardly knew what to expect. Luckily, the one I stayed at literally overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. I remember my mom touring through Ireland when she was about my age and staying in Bed & Breakfasts’ too.
I can definitely understand why solo travelers would find this kind of accommodation extremely appealing. It has the comfort of home plus the privacy that we all crave from time to time. The Irish take hospitality to a while other level and this is a great way to better experience the Irish countryside.
3) The Sun Does Shine
Ireland gets a pretty bad reputation for having awful weather but it’s really not that bad. Yes, it is rainy and cloudy much of the time but the sun does in fact shine and luckily it was out to play for most of my trip. It may sounds strange, but I think being in a place where it’s not a given that you will have hours of sunshine actually made me appreciate it more.
All you have to do is look outside your window and see the healthy, deep green grass staring back at you and all the rain seems worth the trouble. I also loved witnessing the “calm after the storm” effect over the mountains and lakes. The sun comes out and it immediately excites your spirit.
4) Small Town Charm Goes A Long Way
For a girl who gravitates toward chaotic cities, I found Country Kerry to be utterly charming. During my trip, I visited a few different villages including Killarney, Kenmare and Skibbereen. In a nutshell, each town consists of four essential ingredients: shops, B & B’s, restaurants and pubs.
No amount of rain can put a damper on the refreshing feeling one gets from traveling through these quaint towns. Every building is decorated in bright colors and I had a field day reading some of the amusing pub names. You never know what you might find here. In Kenmare, for example, I took a stab at lace-making, an art way more intricate than I imagined.
5) Pub Culture is Unbeatable
Speaking of pubs, Ireland easily takes the crown. Strolling through Dublin’s lively Temple Bar area, the city’s energy radiates from every direction. Naturally, Temple Bar attracts tourists but there is a good amount of locals thrown into the mix. The streets are brightly lit and you can hear the sound of live Irish music on every corner.
Even in Killarney and other small villages, there is always a local pub featuring Irish music especially during high tourism season. The friendly atmosphere also makes it a comfortable environment for solo travelers to stop by for a beer, dinner or just to listen to live music.
None of my favorite Dublin pubs fall within the Temple Bar “district” – but one of them, The Palace Bar, is *thisclose* and hasn’t changed in the 30 years I’ve been going there!
‘When Irish Eyes are Smilin” … it’s what the would loves about Ireland and what visitors have walked away with for centuries. As long as we keep that in focus, we are way ahead of the Global game. Our ‘charm’ is our nationional treasure, keep it alive, and the rest will be ‘attracted’ by default. I’m excited for Ireland… it has become the Silicon Valley of Europe. Harmoniously blending the old and the new is the key will make Ireland a global choice for business location for many years in the future. Go Ireland, keep on smilin!!!